LegalTech

Introducing Lexscout!

Lexscout is a new legal information service provider in Malaysia. It is a result of a joint venture between Burgielaw and I.

The main features of this search engine are the unreported judgment search and lawsuit search. 

The judgement search allows users to search more than 14,000 legal case judgments of the Malaysia Subordinate Courts up to the Federal Court. Many of these judgement are not reported by local law journals. To lessen research time, tags have been inserted to tell users the subject matter of the case without the need to open each search result. The database is powered by FCL&Co Case Law Search App.

The lawsuit search function is first of its kind in Malaysia. Users can now search if a person or company has been involved in a lawsuit in Malaysia. There is also an option to request for a file search to get more details about the case.

I have used Lexscout to conduct background checks on potential litigants, find precedents, and find materials for my Bread & Kaya articles.

One of the most interesting cases I found through Lexscout is the case of Universiti Utara Malaysia v Facebook Inc (Alor Setar High Court Originating Summons No. KA-24-1-01/2019). In this case, the parties had entered in a consent judgment whereby Facebook has to disclose basic subscriber information of certain Facebook users who allegedly have published defamatory statements. This case shows that pre-action discovery application against Facebook can be made in Malaysia instead of filing such application outside Malaysia. Such information would not have been revealed by local legal information service providers.

For a free trial account, please visit its registration page here.

Introduction of Legal Technology Provision in the new Malaysian Legal Profession Act

The Bar Council recently submitted the draft of the new Legal Profession Act to the Attorney General. The new Act seeks to account for developing trends and technological innovation in the legal profession and also seeks to introduce provisions with the aim of being a fully self-governing Bar.

The new Act was drafted by the Committee to Reform the Legal Sector with the assistance of various working groups. I was appointed to assist Working Group 13 to draft the provision for “Legal Technology” which is now s. 35 of the new Act.

S. 35 of the new Act provides the following-

Legal technology

(1) For the purposes of this section:

“legal technology” means any technological product or service used or to be used in the provision of any service or any act which is within any function or responsibility of any advocate and solicitor, or places at the disposal of any other person the services of an advocate and solicitor;

“legal technology provider” means any person or entity that provides legal technology;

(2) The Bar Council may make rules and rulings for the regulation of any legal technology or legal technology provider, taking into account the promotion of technological innovations, public interest and the interests of members of the Malaysian Bar.

(3) The Bar Council shall have the power to exempt any legal technology or legal technology provider from any rules and rulings of the Bar Council and from section 33, with or without any condition, as may be deemed fit by the Bar Council from time to time.

(4) Any contravention of this section by any legal technology provider, shall result in the revocation of any approval or any exemption granted by the Bar Council.

(5) The Bar Council shall have the power to conduct any inquiry to identify or determine any contravention referred to in subsection (4), and may apply to the High Court by way of originating summons, to compel any person or entity to produce any document for the purpose of the inquiry.

(6) Where the Bar Council concludes that there has been a contravention of this section, the Bar Council shall have the power to apply to the High Court –

(a) for an order to restrain the legal technology provider from providing its product, service or solution;
(b) for an order to compel the relevant authority to disclose any further relevant information related to the contravention; and
(c) for an order to compel the relevant authority to restrain or limit access to such legal technological providers that contravene subsection (2).

(7) Any person or entity who contravenes subsection (2) shall be guilty of an offence and shall, on conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding ten thousand ringgit and where such person or entity is an advocate and solicitor or limited liability law partnership, he or it shall also be liable to disciplinary proceedings under Part XI.

S. 35 seeks to regulate the provision of legal technology by legal technology service provider. It is noted that no approval is required to provide any legal technology or legal technology provider technology services unless Bar Council makes rules and rulings for it.

There had been proposal to introduce provision to require legal technology service provider to register itself with Bar Council before it can provide legal technology services. Fortunately, this provision was not introduced as it would stifle innovation. Businesses would be discouraged from creating any innovation for the legal profession if the barrier to entry is high or uncertain. Furthermore, certain technologies like accounting software are catered to all industries and not only legal industry. It would be difficult for the technology provider to divide itself between non-legal technology and legal technology.

There are two (2) parts to the definition of the term “legal technology”. Legal technology is defined as any technological product or service used or to be used-
(1) in the provision of any service or any act which is within any function or responsibility of any advocate and solicitor, or
(2) places at the disposal of any other person the services of an advocate and solicitor.

The first part basically covers all forms of legal technology used by an advocate and solicitor, whether in a form of a hardware and software, and could include legal information platform, artificial intelligence, accounting, software, mobile payment etc.

The second part basically covers lawyer-client matching service. Lawyer-client matching service is currently prohibited by s. 37 of the Legal Profession Act 1976. Lawyer matching service providers, Burgielaw and CanLaw were prohibited by the Bar Council to provide such services with a fee as it amounts to touting.

With the new s. 35(2) and (3), matching service may again be provided but with Bar Council’s approval.

Disclaimer: The views above are purely my personal views. They are not the official view or intent of the Bar Council.

Comments on the Malaysian e-Court System Phase 2

The Malay Mail interviewed me on my views of the implementation of the new e-Court System Phase 2 some time last year. Some of the issues highlighted below have now been resolved. I am posting this for record purpose.

In their article entitled “Lawyers required to go digital by 2018“, I said the following:-

Foong Cheng Leong, the Kuala Lumpur Bar’s Information Technology and Publication Committee chairman, noted that e-filing is partly aimed at ending the maintenance of actual physical files and saves time with the skipping of physical file searches.

“Before e-filing, the court had problem organising their files and many files went missing resulting the loss of judicial and litigants’ time. The e-filing system also allows documents to be viewed quickly without the need to look for the file,” he said.

Foong said the second phase of the e-filing system had some improvements such as a better online file search system that now includes searching of court minutes, but he highlighted several issues such as the use of the security token which he felt was “unnecessary”.

“Although it is now available at an affordable rate, the use of the token creates a ripple effect. For example, the lawyer now would need to apply for the token and learn how to use and install it, safe-keep, protect and observe the expiry date of the token,” he said, arguing that there were other ways to ensure security or to ensure the right person is filing a court document.

He said the online file search function where users have to pay RM8 or RM12 depending on the court tiers for a 30-minute viewing period should be changed, suggesting that the time limit should be scrapped and instead replaced with a pay-per-file system.

The file search function also only allows users to view and print files page by page, but should instead be changed to allow users to download the files to view them directly on their computers, he said.

“The current system still has a lot of bugs. It ought to be have been beta tested properly by users, in particular, the lawyers before rolling them out,” he said, citing as example the timer in the file search system suddenly resetting to 0:00 before the time is actually up.

On the closure of the Service Bureau to lawyers, I stated the following:-

Foong similarly said: “However, the service bureau should still remain to assist lawyers to file their documents. Not every lawyer has litigation cases often and some may even do one or two a year. It makes no commercial sense sometimes to pay for the token to do e-filing. Nevertheless, the Court should allow other parties to open service bureaus to cater the needs of fellow lawyers.”

In Malay Mail’s subsequent article entitled “No more 5am queues to file lawsuits“, I was quoted stating the following:-

Foong Cheng Leong, the Kuala Lumpur Bar’s Information Technology and Publication Committee chairman, said issues that law firms in peninsular Malaysia faced in moving to a new online court filing system had caused the long queues.

During that period, the helpdesk for the online system was overflowing with requests for assistance, with many lawyers complaining that it was not picking up their phone calls, he said.

“I think the long queues at the e-filing service bureau is due to the sudden surge of requests to do e-filing. As many lawyers had problem migrating to the new system, they have no choice but to use the e-filing service bureau. This adds to the usual crowd of lawyers who did not subscribe to the e-filing system.

“The Court was unable to cope with the sudden surge of request and resulted in very long lines. The Court had to limit the number of people who could use the service otherwise their staff would be staying in Court past the normal working hours,” he told Malay Mail Online when asked to weigh in on the issue.

ITC Legal Tech Forum: Bringing Lawyers and Technology Together

KLBC ITC Legal Tech Forum: Bringing Lawyers and Technology Together on 19 January 2016

The KLBC Information Technology Committee will be organising a one-day Legal-Tech Forum on Tuesday, 19 January 2016 from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm at the KL Bar Auditorium, 4th Floor, Wisma Hangsam, No.1 Jalan Hang Lekir, 50000 Kuala Lumpur.

Lawyers and technology have become undeniably intertwined as the legal marketplace becomes more competitive. We would like to bring together skills from the legal and tech fields to share their knowledge with us on how lawyers will modernize their firms in 2016.

The Forum will cover practical legal-tech issues and inform and educate lawyers on technology and innovation for the legal field. The purpose is to provide the participants with the knowledge on essential legal-tech issues as well as introducing tools and ways which can be used by lawyers for efficiency, improving client service, as well as just keeping up with the times.

Speakers are Edmund Bon Tai Soon, Fahri Azzat, Richard Wee Thiam Seng, Jason Kay and Mohd Izzat Ghazali (Gizzat).

Certain tech startups will also provide a short introduction of their services and how their services can assist lawyers in their practice.

Participating legal tech startups
– Be Lazee – making commerce conversational again with concierge and on-demand services.(http://www.bemalas.com/)
– BurgieLaw – to A calendar module software to schedule an appointment with lawyers. (http://www.burgielaw.com/)
– Firegent – an easy way to automatically identify, sort and extract data from documents to create reports, charts, perform – analysis and retrieve them quickly. (http://firegent.com/)
– GiveReceipt – a web app that lets you quickly create and send out e-receipts to your customers. (http://www.givereceipt.com/)
– Intelllex – a productivity suite for lawyers. Its core technology is an intelligent search engine. Other features include a law notes taking application and a knowledge management application. (https://www.facebook.com/intelllex/)
Office Parrots – a career platform for young lawyers to find out more about firms they can work with and to bring transparency to the market. (http://www.officeparrots.com/)
– ZeptoExpress – an online platform to get dispatch services in real time.
– SecondCRM – How Business Automation Improves Client Services for your Law Practice. (http://www.secondcrm.com/)

To register, please visit here

LegalTech Forum 2012 – Giving Your Practice a 21st Century Byte

I will be speaking on “Social Media Marketing for Lawyers” at this event on 15 June 2012. Basically, it will be on:-

  • What can your legal practice generate from social media?
  • How to leverage social media for your legal practice?
  • Case Study: What has Malaysian lawyers benefited from social media.

Details of this event are as follow:-

Highlights

  • Strategic issues on Legal Technology designed specially for Lawyers, In-House Counsels, and Partners
  • Focused conference on Legal Technology which covers the domains of: Awareness, Cloud Computing, e-litigation and Tools
  • An excellent networking platform to exchange ideas and gain knowledge on legal technology
  • Discover how technology can help your firm increase its mobility and flexibility
  • Gather new perspective from your comrades in adapting new technology
  • Explore the significance of e-Discovery and its impact in the courtroom
  • Distinguish the opportunities and threats in moving towards e-Litigation

Event Overview

There are two things that are on most legal practitioners thoughts – 1) making the day to day work easier; and 2) how to increase the billable hours. The advent of technology is changing how law is practiced and is influencing the delivery of legal services. Law firms for instance, are no longer just a centre of legal expertise, they are legal establishments where commercial proficiency, technology and business processes are now as vital as the expertise that makes a great lawyer or legal service provider.

This is the time to take the bull by its horn! LegalTech Forum 2012 is a 2 day conference on the use of technology in legal processes and proceedings. This conference will be an excellent arena to network with other legal practitioners and solution providers, as well as to learn and benchmark from top players in the legal profession.

For more information, please visit http://www.legaltech-ap.com

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